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Katie Hindmarch-Watson on London's Telecommunications Work and Serving a Wired World

Who Makes Cents?: A History of Capitalism Podcast

Release Date: 01/04/2021

Justene Hill Edwards on the Slaves Economy and the Limits of Black Capitalism show art Justene Hill Edwards on the Slaves Economy and the Limits of Black Capitalism

Who Makes Cents?: A History of Capitalism Podcast

In this month's episode, Justene Hill Edwards takes listeners on a journey through the slaves' economy. From bustling urban marketplaces to back-country roads, she reveals the myriad ways enslaved people participated in South Carolina's market economy prior to the Civil War. In doing so, she never loses sight of the limitations of the slaves’ economy, revealing how enslaved peoples’ investments in capitalism, while providing temporary relief, ultimately benefited the very people who denied them freedom.

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Joshua Greenberg on the Rage for Paper Money and Monetary Knowledge in Early America show art Joshua Greenberg on the Rage for Paper Money and Monetary Knowledge in Early America

Who Makes Cents?: A History of Capitalism Podcast

In this month's episode, Joshua Greenberg explores the chaotic and volatile monetary system of early America and the extensive financial knowledge required to navigate it. This monetary know-how was needed not only by financiers and merchants operating at a high-level of the economy, but also by those who may never have stepped foot inside a bank themselves, and yet, were nevertheless compelled to constantly evaluate the value and authenticity of the paper money being handed to them or risk losing out.

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Gabriel Winant on the Rusting of 'Steel City, USA' and the Rise of Healthcare show art Gabriel Winant on the Rusting of 'Steel City, USA' and the Rise of Healthcare

Who Makes Cents?: A History of Capitalism Podcast

Today, healthcare workers account for the largest percentage of U.S. workers. Yet, their power pales in comparison to the unionized industrial workforce that preceded them, and whom it is their job now to care for. In this episode, Gabriel Winant explains how these two worlds--the industrial economy and the post-industrial service economy--came together in 'Steel City, USA,' revealing how the healthcare economy emerged to take advantage of the social hierarchies engendered by the American welfare state.

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Cristina Groeger on Education, Labor, and Inequality in Boston show art Cristina Groeger on Education, Labor, and Inequality in Boston

Who Makes Cents?: A History of Capitalism Podcast

This episode centers on a paradox in contemporary American society, namely the coexistence of high rates of educational achievement alongside growing inequality in the United States. In order to address this paradox, Cristina Groeger takes listeners on a journey back in time to the turn of the twentieth century and explains how it is that education came to replace other forms of training as a major pathway into employment, while revealing the consequences of this transformation, including for labor.

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Ronald Schatz on the Labor Board Vets and the Rise of Industrial-Labor Relations show art Ronald Schatz on the Labor Board Vets and the Rise of Industrial-Labor Relations

Who Makes Cents?: A History of Capitalism Podcast

In this episode, Ronald Schatz discusses the history of the National War Labor Board vets. Recruited by the U.S. government during WWII to help resolve union-management conflicts, many labor board vets went on to have long and illustrious careers arbitrating conflicts in a wide-range of sectors from the steel industry to the public sector. While not traditional labor activists, the history of the labor board vets offers important lessons for understanding the rise of industrial-labor relations in the U.S.

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Rebecca Marchiel on Redlining, Financial Deregulation, and the Urban Reinvestment Movement  show art Rebecca Marchiel on Redlining, Financial Deregulation, and the Urban Reinvestment Movement

Who Makes Cents?: A History of Capitalism Podcast

The iconic Home Owners’ Loan Corporation maps, created during the New Deal, have served as powerful illustrations of red-lining. Yet, they suggest a more static relationship between financial institutions and cities than actually existed. In this episode, Rebecca Marchiel offers a riveting account of the urban reinvestment movement, a multi-racial coalition of activists that opposed redlining, while also revealing the obstacles they faced from bankers and government officials in implementing their vision.

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Katie Hindmarch-Watson on London's Telecommunications Work and Serving a Wired World show art Katie Hindmarch-Watson on London's Telecommunications Work and Serving a Wired World

Who Makes Cents?: A History of Capitalism Podcast

Modern telecommunications is often beset with concerns about privacy of information. Such concerns are not new. Rather, as Katie Hindmarch-Watson shows, they have long plagued information workers whose bodily and gendered labor was central to the development of Victorian-era London's telecommunications industry. Through tales of misbehaving telegraph boys and "wicked" telephone girls, she offers a cultural and gendered history of telecommunications work with deep implications for today's service economy.

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Shennette Garrett-Scott on Black Women in Finance show art Shennette Garrett-Scott on Black Women in Finance

Who Makes Cents?: A History of Capitalism Podcast

In this episode, Shennette Garrett-Scott explores black financial innovation and its transformative impact on U.S. capitalism through the story of the St. Luke Bank in Richmond, Virginia: the first and only bank run by black women. Garrett-Scott chronicles both the bank’s success and the challenges this success wrought, including bureaucratic violence that targeted the bank. Through recounting the history of the St. Luke Bank, Garrett-Scott gives black women in finance the attention they deserve.

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Aaron Jakes on Colonial Economism and Egypt's Occupation show art Aaron Jakes on Colonial Economism and Egypt's Occupation

Who Makes Cents?: A History of Capitalism Podcast

In Egypt's Occupation, Aaron Jakes challenges longstanding conceptions of Egypt as peripheral to global capitalism based on its role as a cotton producer through showing how Egypt functioned as a laboratory for colonial economism and financial innovation amid the turn of the twentieth-century boom and bust. In doing so, Jakes offers a sweeping reinterpretation of both the historical geography of capitalism and the role of political-economic thought during the British occupation of Egypt. 

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Casey Lurtz on Globalization from the Grounds Up show art Casey Lurtz on Globalization from the Grounds Up

Who Makes Cents?: A History of Capitalism Podcast

In From the Grounds Up: Building an Export Economy in Southern Mexico, Casey Lurtz tells the history of how a border region, the Soconusco, became Mexico’s leading coffee exporter. In doing so, she complicates narratives of globalization and economic liberalization that tend to prioritize national and global elites. Rather, as the title suggests, she digs below the surface of these processes in order to tell a powerful story about local engagement with capitalism and the state.

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More Episodes

It is common these days to bemoan the amount of personal information companies like Amazon, Facebook, and other modern telecommunications goliaths collect about us. For many, this invasion of privacy exists as a necessary consequence of our growing dependence on the internet. With every click of the mouse—making it possible to have products manufactured half-way around the world delivered to our doorstep—there is a reluctant awareness of the risk that our private lives might be made public.

That sense of the potential of our private lives being made public is all the more real when we acknowledge the human beings at the center of these information networks. Our modern service economy relies on people whose jobs involve an intimate awareness of our daily lives—the Amazon delivery person who brings us toilet paper, the barista who procures for us our morning coffee and knows whether we prefer cream or almond milk; the data analyst who knows what new titillating show we’re watching  and uses that information to sell us on the latest product. Our desire for on-demand services is satisfied through these people having access to information about us, all the more so amid the ongoing pandemic. Katie Hindmarch-Watson has spent many years thinking about the human labor involved in making a service economy. In Serving a Wired World: London's Telecommunication Workers and the Making of an Information Capital, she shows how concerns about privacy and information were at the center Victorian-era London’s telecommunications industry centered around the telegraph and telephone: the internet of its day. In doing so, she takes us on a journey involving telegraph boys ensnared in homosexual scandal and wicked telephone girls suspected of interrupting connections, all the while revealing the intimate and bodied labor that made (an) information capital.